Nursing Abroad vs. Nursing Domestically

April 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

When you pursue a career in nursing, you’ll be happy to know that this path can take you many places all over the globe.  Where you land depends upon your interest in international travel and your ability to adapt to diverse cultures. If your wanderlust is strong, and you are committed to a career in nursing, consider traveling abroad to help others. Let’s explore the unique qualities of each path so you can make an informed decision about where to practice nursing.

Education and Training Required for Nursing in the USA

There is a range of nursing career paths available.  These careers include Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and Nurse Practitioner (NP).  Each of these requires a specific level of education and certification.  Degrees for nurses include an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The higher degree you obtain, the higher your level of responsibility and the higher your salary.  Nurses in the USA must be certified to practice; nurses take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become certified.

To prepare for a career in nursing abroad, many universities offer an immersion experience, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  This is an experience that you pay for as a part of your tuition, but it is highly structured and supervised with clear leaning and Premedical students in the hospital laboratory medical outcomes for students.  Countries that typically host students who are interested in an international nursing career, or at least would like to be exposed to nursing in developing countries, include Jamaica and Tanzania. Expect to stay for two to four weeks during your international nursing education experience.

Education and Training Required for Nursing Abroad

There is a frequent overlap in the requirements for educations and training of nurses both domestically and abroad. Nurses who train abroad are frequently recruited to developed countries to ease chronic nursing shortages.  Internationally trained nurses who practice in the US typically come from a small number of counties, including the Philippines, India, and South Korea.  To practice in the US, these nurses must also pass the NCLEX-RN and well as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  If you travel abroad to receive your training, know that you will still have to take the NCLEX-RN when you return to the US if you want to be a practicing nurse.

Nursing Care in Developed Countries

To practice nursing in the majority of developed countries, you will need to demonstrate that you have the necessary qualifications, training, and education.  Developed countries continue to face shortages in nurse staffing, particularly in the areas of emergency medicine and critical care. Though nurses in developed countries have access to the latest advances in medical care, they are typically very busy and work in a high stress environment. They are responsible for an increased patient load and must be friendly, knowledgeable, flexible, and analytical. Nurses in the US can work in a multitude of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, private general practices, oncology units, pediatric offices, nursing homes, assisted living communities, rehabilitation center, and government organizations. Because of the increasing nursing salaries, this is a tremendous field for both women and men who are interested in making a difference in health care.

Nursing Care in Developing Countries

When you provide nursing care in developing countries, you will discover that you must be very sensitive to diverse population who might not feel comfortable with your style of health care practice. You may not to have access to the medical equipment which you are used to seeing in Western hospitals and clinics. Nurses provide a wide range of services, including giving vaccines, providing reproductive health care, treating locally common illnesses such as malaria, and educating patients on hygiene and sanitation. Much like nursing domestically, nursing abroad is an intensely busy endeavor.  The salaries are less competitive than those in developed countries, but the cost of living is typically much, much lower than in developed countries. While many countries around the world speak English as one of their primary languages, to be an effective nurse abroad, you should invest the time to learn the primary indigenous language of that country.  There are many dialects within countries, but if you can gain an intermediate understanding and conversational style, you will be a true asset to a community abroad.

Which One Is Right For You?

There are many factors to consider before pursuing a nursing career abroad.  Most nurses remain in the country in which they were born and trained, but because of the strong recruitment efforts to hire nurses both abroad and domestically, there is a frequent ebb and flow of migration within the global nursing community.

One factor to consider if you want to practice nursing abroad is whether you will be comfortable living and working in a country with little to no family support.  For some people, getting homesick is unbearable, so consider if you are the type of person who requires the pre medical students shadowing surgerycomfort of friends and family.  While you can accept a temporary assignment nursing abroad, even a short amount of time away from the comforts of home may be too much. 

Another factor to consider is the status of racism and discrimination within the country you plan to work in.  Globally, this type of cultural mindset has changed dramatically throughout the last several decades, but it does still exist.  Even is you are a nurse native to the USA, you may encounter discrimination in your work environment.  Because nurses work with all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and creeds, you never know when you might become a victim of racism. 

Lastly, consider the financial aspects of working as a nurse domestically or a nurse abroad.  You may be able to relocate to another country easily, but you may not be able to return home. You may find that the cost of living is difficult to maintain and that your nursing position does not cover your expenses.   Make sure to do your due diligence when it comes to the financial aspects of working as a nurse domestically or abroad.

Nurses are needed around the world in all locations, so if you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime in a most rewarding career, consider working as a nurse abroad or domestically! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.